Sunday, 9 October 2011

CBR3 Book 74: "Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children" by Ransom Riggs

Publisher: Quirk Books
Page count: 352 pages
Rating: 3 stars
Date begun: September 5th, 2011
Date finished: September 7th, 2011

Jacob is a teenage boy who as a child was enchanted by all his grandfather's tales of the strange island where he grew up, and the many peculiar children he used to play with. His grandfather had a box full of old photographs of odd looking individuals, and would happily tell Jacob about them for hours. As Jacob grew older, he started realizing how far fetched the stories sounded, and how fake and clearly manipulated the photos were. Yet when his grandfather dies under mysterious circumstances, and Jacob thinks he sees a hideous slavering monster near his dying body, it's suddenly not so clear what is truth and what is fiction. Jacob's parents, and his very well-meaning therapist work as hard as they can to convince him that his grandfather's stories and the thing he saw were nothing but tall tales and hallucinations, brought on by stress and fear, but there is still a kernel of doubt in Jacob.

Having found a letter to his grandfather from a Miss Peregrine, the proprietor of a children's home on an island outside Wales, Jacob convinces his dad that they should go there, and find out more about his grandfather's past. On the remote island, it is clear that there was once an orphanage, but it's now a complete ruin, and has been abandoned since the Second World War. Jacob explores the bedrooms and basements of the crumbling house, and finds more pictures and evidence of his grandfather's tales. He discovers that the children his grandfather talked about may have existed, and there are signs that some of them may still be on the island, as unlikely as that may seem.

Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children is a picture book, where the many photographs collected by Ransom Riggs, make up an integral part of the story. There are countless photographs that help illustrate the narrative, and I don't think the book would have been as enjoyable without it. The book lags a bit in places, but once Jacob arrives on the island and starts really investigating, it becomes an entertaining read, and I'm curious to see where the story progresses, as there is clearly a sequel or sequels coming.

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